- The Washington Times - Friday, August 23, 2002

Ford's newest F-150, the new King Ranch, carries on the indisputable dominance of Ford's F-150 in the truck market. The best-selling truck in the United States for 24 years and the best-selling vehicle in the country for 12 years, the F-150 leads the pack, with increasingly tough competition year after year from Chevrolet, GMC and Dodge, not to mention a bevy of capable imports.

This year, the Blue Oval offers an almost staggering number of choices for the 2002 F-150 shopper. A wider variety of trim levels, bed lengths, interiors and drivetrains is being offered to attract buyers that range from small families to big contractors. Most notably, this automaker has teamed up with world-renowned, Texas King Ranch to create the King Ranch SuperCrew the limousine of pickup trucks.

F-Series trucks, first launched in 1948, were sold primarily to farmers, manufacturers and small businesses in the late 1940s, and renamed by numerical designations (F-150, F-250, etc.) in 1953. By the mid-1960s, nearly two-thirds of pickup owners were using their vehicles for recreational and personal use, as well as for commercial purposes, which helped spawn Ford's "New Generation" of light trucks in the 1970s. The F-150 model debuted in 1975, in Regular Cab and two SuperCab variations, and sold more than 225,000 units in 1976.

In 1980, the F-series underwent a major overhaul. Interiors were redesigned to be more carlike, and the all-new cabs featured swept-back front ends with improved aerodynamics. The F-150 4x4 SuperCab with a 138-inch wheelbase made its debut in 1988.

In 1997, F-150 and F-250 models were redesigned again, raising the bar for the pickup segment with improved styling, performance, handling, payload capacity and safety. During the 1999 model year, the F-150 four-door SuperCab was launched.

Just two years later, Ford delivered the SuperCrew, the first and only in an entirely new segment: the full-size light-duty crew cab pickup.

In 2002, the Blue Oval takes that segment one step further with its most luxurious model to date, the co-branded King Ranch SuperCrew. Based on the newly introduced F-150 SuperCrew, the industry's first under-8,500-pound GVW full-size pickup truck, with four full-size doors and a full rear passenger compartment, the King Ranch F-150 SuperCrew is aimed at the more affluent truck buyer who wants the toughness of a pickup married to the luxury of a high-end sedan. The King Ranch SuperCrew cab, like all SuperCrews, is 12 inches longer than the F-150 SuperCab, and boasts best-in-class rear-seat roominess and four doors for easy entry and exit. General exterior styling remains the same as with the 2001 model, though the King Ranch version features several exclusive paint treatments. Unique two-tone paint has a raised cutline in colors of Estate Green w/ Arizona Beige two tone; Chestnut w/ Arizona Beige two tone and Charcoal Blue w/ Arizona Beige two tone. Fender badging and 17-inch, 10-spoke painted aluminum wheels are distinctive also.

King Ranch SuperCrew is equipped with a standard 4.6-liter SOHC Triton V-8, which delivers 231 horsepower and 293 foot-pounds of torque. Mated to a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, this engine delivers more torque at a lower rpm than the competition. Also available is a 5.4-liter SOHC Triton V-8 engine, one of Ward's Auto World's 2001 "10 best," which boosts horsepower by almost 30 and torque by 57 foot-pounds. The truck is available with either 4x2 or electronic shift-on-the-fly 4x4.

Ford says this vehicle's capabilities also match or beat those of any light-duty workhorse on the market. With GVWR ratings of up to 6750 on the 4x4, 5.4-liter motor models, the King Ranch can haul a serious load in its 5.5-foot bed. Tie-down hooks are located in each corner of the cargo box, and a cargo light on the rear of the cab makes loading and uploading the pickup box easier at night.

An optional Bed Extender allows more flexibility when transporting large items. The tubular steel bed extender is a curved cage unit that attaches to the rear of the pickup bed. With the tailgate closed, the stowed bed extender provides storage that keeps smaller items from sliding around the bed while the truck is in motion.

Ford's upscale Clydesdale comes fitted with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. The short- and long-arm independent front suspension enhances ride and handling, while staggered rear shocks help to control movement of the rear axle on bumpy roads.

Inside, evidence of this truck's day job disappears in the comfortable, classy cabin. Front and rear leather-bound captains chairs and console with embossed "King Ranch F-150 SuperCrew" logo and two-way headrests are sumptuously inviting after a hard day in the saddle. A rear bench seat is available as an option.

First- or best-in-class features shared with other SuperCrew models include standard power-adjustable pedals, available power moonroof and the bed extender. Other features include an AM/FM/CD stereo, Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (EATC), an available rear-seat entertainment package with VHS player and game outlets, lighted visor mirrors with Homelink and Travel Note.

Whether your ranch is in Texas or Massachusetts, the King Ranch SuperCrew offers yet another choice in the already expansive F-150 lineup. Equipped with high-end features, it's a truck that doesn't compromise its blue-collar credibility.

In fact the King Ranch brand, associated with the hard-working Texas ranch and wildlife reserve, reinforces the "built Ford tough" credo.

Combining hauling power with high-end appointments, this limo is sure to impress even the orneriest cowboy or cowgirl.

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